Mandarin Indian and Chinese Restaurant and Grill. Tartu Mnt 42, 10115, Tallinn, Estonia. Telephone: 600 5878
The Mandarin is located on Tartu mnt 42 in Tallinn, Estonia. On the drive from Stockmann towards the airport, it can be found halfway up the hill on the right hand side.
It has a veranda outside and is all painted in a dreary red colour. It calls itself a “Kiirtoitlustusrestoran” which means “fast food restaurant”. It advertises Indian curry, kebabs, grill and Chinese food in the window. (A bit of an “all rounder” eh?)
I was instantly suspicious upon stepping inside, the place was almost deserted (which is never a good sign) but we were hungry so I thought we would persevere and hope for the best.
Natalija, the very overweight waitress (which is quite unusual in this part of the world) furnishes you with two menus. One is for Indian food; one for Chinese, Thai and a host of other stuff. This is, of course, done in the sullen silent mode that is typical of many places in Tallinn. (Slow and sullen service is a leftover from Russian times.)
The Indian menu contained little that looked familiar to me (and being from the North of England, we are very curry savvy). Having spotted a dark skinned fellow creeping around in the background in a preposterously tall chef’s hat, I assumed he came from somewhere ending in “stan” and should have half a clue, so I decided to order what I know as Indian food without using the hopeless menu.
It wasn’t complex: Some poppadoms, seikh kebab starter, chicken tikka vindaloo (you order two times hotter than you really want in Eastern Europe as they don’t really do chilli), pilau rice and a garlic nan. They had no seikh kebab and no pilau rice. Basmati rice was offered instead. I dropped the idea of a starter. The good lady wife ordered something Chinese with king prawns and boiled rice.
So what arrived? Let’s begin. Poppadoms arrived glistening with oil but not fresh or warm (thus made yesterday) with no chutneys. I asked for onion, chilli, and yoghurt sauce and got a bowl of tomato ketchup type stuff instead that tasted foul. The rice arrived and was just plain cheapo boiled rice caked together. The “vindaloo” had never seen a chilli in its life. I don’t know what it was, but it was not even remotely hot, bore no relation to any kind of vindaloo, and tasted not at all nice. The garlic nan had no garlic on it and was dripping with what looked like margarine.
I had hopes of livening it up, and asked for some green chillies, and was told they had none! An Indian restaurant with no chillies? Riiight!
My good lady wife’s prawns tasted about a year old and frozen, the rest was just about passable.
The price was 320 Kroons, around £18 and was not even worth that. I would have preferred to pay twice the price and had something that was half decent.
All in all, avoid the Mandarin in Tallinn like the plague. The service is sullen, the food is awful, the décor is drab and dreary and the adjacent parking you must pay for. There is absolutely no reason to visit this place, and the fact that it is bereft of locals would suggest that this is a fact known locally already.
There is a website allegedly located at mandarin.ee – but it requires a security log in so is even more useless than the place itself.